The Way to Rainy Mountain | Study Guide

N. Scott Momaday

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The Way to Rainy Mountain | Chapter 12 : The Going On | Summary



The paragraph in the ancestral voice gives a lengthy story. It tells of an old man, his wife, and their child. The child asked for some of the meat the woman was pounding, and he went outside. He then came back and asked for more. The third time he did this, the man grew afraid and told the wife to give him a large ball of meat. When the child returned, he had an enemy with him. The family tricked the enemy, escaped, and set fire to the tipi, killing their enemies. The historical paragraph tells of the destruction of a "fine heraldic tipi" in a fire in the winter of 1872–73. The personal paragraph gives recollections of the landscape and the cry of a bird.


Here begins a series of segments collectively highlighting the strength, bravery, and cleverness of the Kiowa people. The use of their intellect enables the man and his wife and child to escape their enemies. This is an act not of physical prowess, but of superior reasoning. The pairing of this story with the historical detail of a burned tipi serves to buttress the idea that these people were clever and did escape their enemies. The reader will note that the Kiowa are, at the time of this text and currently, in possession of a tribal history of much loss and oppression. The author shows the courage, the success, and the past victories—which is hopeful and important to a people who have been so grossly treated by the U.S. government.

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